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Single-use plastic shopping bag ban in the works for Surrey

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The City of Surrey has led the way on many of the green initiatives in the Metro region. Our Biofuel Facility is the only closed loop operation in North America where 100% of our curbside green bin organic waste is converted into renewable natural gas and high-quality compost. 115,000 tonnes of organic waste is diverted annually from the landfill as a result of Surrey Biofuel.

The next logical step for Surrey is to ban single-use plastic shopping bags.

“This is a simple and effective step that will have an immediate beneficial impact on our city,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “In this day and age where we all can play a role in curbing waste and consumption, there is no reason not to have a reusable shopping bag close at hand for bagging groceries or other goods. I have asked City staff to immediately begin work on developing the proper bylaws so such a ban can be enacted by January 2021.

My Council colleagues are fully in support of this initiative and a Corporate Report will be brought forward within the next month for Council action. I want to encourage Surrey businesses, and some of have already done so, to take the initiative to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags before the city-wide ban comes into effect on January 1, 2021.”

Surrey604 is an online magazine and media outlet based in Surrey, BC. Through writing, video, photography, and social media, we secure an intimate reach to the public. We promote local events and causes.

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City Council amends bylaws to support fair competition among vehicles for hire and approves IMBL for ride-hailing

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Surrey City Council amends bylaws to support fair
competition between taxi and ride-hailing companies.

Council supports Inter-Municipal Business License for ride-hailing.

Surrey, BC – City Council approved several amendments to modernize the City’s Vehicle for Hire and Business Licence Bylaws with the aim of establishing fair competition in Surrey between ride-hailing vehicles and the highly regulated taxi industry. Council also approved the Inter-Municipal Business License (IMBL) for ride-hailing at last night’s Regular Council meeting.

“I am pleased that Council approved the amendments to our City bylaws to support a level playing field between taxis and ride-hailing vehicles,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “We are doing what we can within the City’s jurisdiction to create equitable competition between taxis and ride-hailing companies. I will continue to advocate that the Province and the Passenger Transportation Board do their part in supporting a fair competitive market for those employed in these industries.”

City Council endorsed the following improvements to City bylaws to ensure that all passenger directed vehicles, including taxicabs, reflect the same regulatory environment as provided in the IMBL to the extent possible under the City’s jurisdiction:

  • The fees for Surrey taxicabs will be reduced from the current $161.75 in company fees and $441 annual fee per taxicab to match the licencing fee structure of the IMBL. Taxicabs in Surrey will now pay the same fee as their ride-hailing counterparts of a company fee of $155, plus a per vehicle fee of $150 for each vehicle. The same incentives are provided to zero emission taxicabs, with a reduction to $30 per vehicle, and the fee waived for wheelchair accessible taxis.
  • Council has also approved taxicabs to travel in marked bus lanes, as well as allow wheelchair accessible taxicabs to park in accessible parking spots while loading and/or unloading passengers in City-owned parking lots. The City has no parking enforcement jurisdiction within privately owned parking lots.
  • The maximum age of a taxicab vehicles has been increased from 7 years to 10 years to match PTB requirements for ride-hailing vehicles.
  • The PTB will perform vehicle inspections on all passenger directed vehicles annually for vehicles that travel more than 40,000 km per year, and biannually for vehicles that travel less than 40,000 km per year. In addition, all taxicabs will now receive inspection via the PTB.

The Corporate Report can be viewed in its entirety here.

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Bring back Surrey’s Public Safety Committee: Councillor Linda Annis

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Mayor’s Police Transition Committee Never Meets

Surrey, B.C. (February 25, 2020): Councillor Linda Annis wants Surrey to bring back the city’s long-standing Public Safety Committee which the mayor dissolved in July 2019, when he created a politically slanted interim police transition advisory committee that has never met.

“City council’s Public Safety Committee was created in 2003 by Mayor Dianne Watts and looked at much more than policing,” said Annis. “The Public Safety Committee was made up of all councillors and dealt with policing, firefighting, emergency services and a broad range of public safety issues and related programs. The so-called police transition advisory committee is made up of the mayor and his four Safe Surrey councillors, only deals with police transition, and as far as I know, has never met.”

At last night’s city council meeting, Annis tabled a notice of motion that the Public Safety Committee be reinstated at the next council meeting on Monday, March 9.

“The Public Safety Committee of council served a valuable purpose and gave the community a forum for important community safety issues that included police, fire and emergency services,” added Annis. “It also ensured that our city was ready for any public emergency. The mayor and his councillors have created a committee that has no transparency. It never meets. It has no agenda, no public meetings, no minutes and no plan. Like the proposed transition to a local police department, which includes fewer officers than we have today, this invisible committee created by the mayor does nothing to improve public safety.”

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Open Letter from Surrey Connect

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Surrey Residents Want Input into Their Policing

Surrey residents have lost confidence and trust in the process to transition from the RCMP to a Municipal Police Department due to the lack of communication and transparency. It was acknowledged by the Solicitor General that the report done by the City of Surrey and Vancouver Police Department was inadequate, requiring the province to review it for gaps in the proposal.

Mr. Oppal was then asked to review the proposal and address the gaps in the report. We understand his report has now been deposited with the Director of Police Services, Brenda Butterworth-Carr. In keeping with the closed process surrounding this report from the onset, Surrey Council has not seen the recent Oppal report.

On February 14, 2020, Premier Horgan received a petition with over 40,000 signatures. Over the course of the year, several polls have determined that the majority of Surrey residents want to maintain the RCMP as Surrey’s Police Department. (Maple Leaf Poll – 64%, City of Surrey’s own Consultation Report – 73% and now the National Police Federations’ Poll – 77%). These polling results were achieved even though the public did not have a clear indication of the cost impact to the taxpayer.

Certainly, these results point to a discrepancy between Mayor McCallum’s interpretation of the 2018 local government election results and they clearly do not support his comments that the Surrey residents are in favour of a move from the RCMP.

On May 23, 2019, Premier Horgan stated: “The public needs to have a clear understanding: Why there would be a requirement to change, what the cost of that change would be, and would it be a diminishment or an improvement in the delivery of services to people?” He went further to say, “I can’t answer those basic questions because I don’t know, and if I can’t, I assume the public can’t either.”

Then on May 24, 2019, it was reported that Premier Horgan stated “I would argue, and I’ve made the case to Mayor McCallum, that the public needs to have a clear understanding why there would be a requirement to change, and what that cost would be, and would there be a diminishment in service to people,”

Premier Horgan went further to say that the province “has a significant role to play in the delivery of public safety services in Surrey” and will need to look closely at the details of Surrey’s proposal before it decides whether to allow the change.

It has been unclear throughout this process what the level of service would be nor has there been a comprehensive comparison of the current service of the RCMP with a new, untested Surrey Police Department. Certainly, cost implications have never been clearly outlined and communicated to council or the public.

More recently, on January 23, 2020, it was positive to hear Premier Horgan speak in support of the concerns of Surrey resident and especially taxpayers when he stated: “Traditionally municipal forces cost more than the RCMP and again those are issues that the public need to know before they make a final decision. I think the Mayor appreciates that, he would prefer to move faster, I know that, but I think it is our responsibility to make sure that when Surrey makes these choices, they do it with full information. That is what the Oppal process has been all about. And there will be costs, so I think it is important that people know that before they take a leap of faith”

Costs to residents

We appreciate that the provincial government is concerned about Surrey taxpayers. Policing across the country is plagued with escalating cost, therefore, managing those costs is critical to residents and ultimately public safety in general.

The original Police Transition Report did not provide a solid pathway regarding the cost impact to residents. Further, we have learned that all cost projections were done on a “best case” scenario. We already know that the reported cost projections for I.T. in the report will not be achieved and that those costs will be significantly higher than originally budgeted.

The RCMP are a good value for Surrey

Comparisons between cities will provide a general guideline to better understand the cost implications to Surrey taxpayers should we change our model from the RCMP to a local police force. The chart below is extrapolated from a report by the Ministry of Public Safety. These are cost per capita in three “like” jurisdictions that have local police forces. This is based on 2018 statistics.

There can be no question that the police transition will increase taxes for Surrey residents. The question is by how much. The above chart is a comparison of the operating budgets from three local police departments. These numbers do not include the capital costs of the transition nor does it include any costs from a risk management (insurance) perspective.

Cities fund the risk management where there is a local police service whereas the costs for the RCMP are borne nationally. Suffice to say risk management can be a significant and unknown cost to the city when there is a requirement to compensate for personal or property damage done in the line of duty. Similarly, with employee costs like the health employer tax, the RCMP funds those nationally however, they are funded by cities with local police departments.

Hiring police officers is a challenge throughout North America. It should be predicted that Surrey will be faced with that same challenge to recruit the number of officers required for a police service even to meet the minimal requirement as stated in the Police Transition Report of 805 officers. While it has been stated that some members will come from the current Surrey RCMP detachment, that has not been confirmed. There is a further concern that some of the officers will come from other police departments like West Vancouver, Vancouver and New Westminster because the cost of living in Surrey is more in line with a police officer’s wage.

Training for all municipal police departments in British Columbia is done through the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC). The funding and ability for the JIBC to train officers is limited and just keeping up with the existing need for officers in B.C.

In the BC Budget 2020, there was no additional funding to the JIBC to adequately meet the needs of a new police department the size of Surrey. The RCMP training facility in Regina has more flexibility and can increase or decrease intake as the national need dictates.

In the end, if this issue is that Surrey is concerned about local input into policing in our city, that can be achieved through a Local Police Board for the RCMP. While this is a new option, it is working successfully in several jurisdictions in the country. Stephen Thatcher, Assistant Commissioner of the Lower Mainland District Commander, ‘E’ Division, RCMP said: “a type of police board, in the form of an advisory or local police committee to support the mayor and council in working with the RCMP is a potential option for the City of Surrey.”

The province is in a position to listen and provide Surrey citizens with an opportunity to have their voices heard. Likewise, it is important that First Nations peoples are consulted in a meaningful way – government to government – in accordance with all that is right and just.

Now that the police transition file is out of the hands of the local government and the purview of the provincial government, we trust that the province will consider the wishes of the residents of Surrey.

Regards,

Cllr. Jack Hundial
Cllr. Brenda Locke

Police Transition
Chronological Timeline

2018

Nov. 2 – Mayor Elect Doug McCallum, Bob Cheema and Chief of Staff Donna identified on Minister Farnworth’s calendar meeting to discuss traffic fine sharing and redacted item(s).

Nov. 5 – Motion to start the process to move to a Surrey Police Department. Cllr. Hundial’s caveat – it must provide better police service and be fiscally affordable.

Dec. – Budget 2019 guts services and all new infrastructure in order to meet the cost implications of the Police transition. Infrastructure projects like the Cloverdale Arena were cancelled even though they were shovels in the ground and the Road Levy tax stopped.

2019

May – Surrey sends the Police Transition Report to Victoria. Council had little or no input into the report. All work was singularly the purview of the Mayors office. Council was provided 45 minutes to review the document prior to it being deposited with the Solicitor General.

May 15 – Public Consultation process and locations announced.

May 23 – First Public Consultation event occurs – large turn out. “Keep the RCMP in Surrey” campaign begins.

May 31 – Cllr. Pettigrew leaves Mayors’ Safe Surrey Coalition.

June 18 – Press Release exposes the lack of resources in the Police Transition Report dedicated to abused children and youth at Sophie’s Place.

June 23 – Mayor announces that Surrey’s Public Consultation determined that 93% of residents want a Surrey Police Department.

A Request was made for the raw data from the public consultation process.

June 27 – Cllr. Locke leaves Mayors’ Safe Surrey Coalition.

July 15 – Mayor folds the City of Surrey’s Public Safety Committee in favour of a Police Transition Committee (PTC). Only members of his own coalition assigned to the PTC. The PTC has never met.

July 18 – Cllr. Hundial leaves Mayors’ Safe Surrey Coalition.

Aug. 12 – Press Release expresses concern that the Police Transition Report does not respond to vulnerable people at risk by cutting the current Police Mental Health Outreach Team by 50% at a time when calls to police for mental health and addictions issues exceed 40% of all calls to the police.

Aug. 19 – Cllr. Locke requests to have the Police Transition Report translated into other languages. The response was negative.

Aug. 22 – Solicitor General gives Surrey “green light” to proceed with the police transition and appoints Wally Oppal to fill the gaps in the report.

Sept. – Maple Leaf Strategies conducts a poll regarding public interest in police transition. The outcome was clear 72% of the population in Surrey support the RCMP.

Sept. 24 – Cllr. Locke received an abridged version of Surrey’s Public Consultation raw data stamped “Confidential – Not for Distribution”. (3 months post the request)

Oct. 1 – Cllr. Locke met with Surrey Lawyer re misinformation communicated to the public regarding the public consultation. I was told that because the data was stamped “Confidential – Not for Distribution” and it would be a breach to refute the Mayors’ statement.

Oct. 30 – Applied to the Provincial FOIPPA office to have the data released. After several emails and phone calls, it was determined that the process should go back to the City of Surrey’s FOI office.

Dec. 16 – Budget 2020 is completely focussed on the Police transition with no opportunity to build infrastructure. The road levy is cancelled once again, and few new projects permitted.

Motion to stop the process of the Police transition until a proper feasibility study has been done that specifically included cost to the taxpayer. Defeated 5/4 split.

Dec. 23 – Data was released at 4:30 that indicated that the Mayors’ comments regarding public support for a Surrey Police Department were inaccurate.

2020

Jan. 21 – Surrey Resident Richard Landale does an in-depth analysis of the police transition titled “Qualitative Review of the Policing Transition Citizen Engagement Survey”. The author points to a flawed process that did not put a clear question to the public and Thematic Analysis principles inaccurate rationalization of the data information.

Feb. 4 – Cllr. Brenda Locke Signed the petition to “Keep the RCMP in Surrey”.

Feb. 10 – Motion put forward to halt the Police Transition process until proper, government to government consultation had been achieved with both lands based and urban First Nations. Ruled out of order as the Mayor claimed a relationship with First Nations is not an issue for local government.

Feb. 12 – Cllr. Jack Hundial signed the petition to “Keep the RCMP in Surrey”.

Feb. 14 – “Keep the RCMP in Surrey” delivers 40,000 signatures on a petition to Premier Horgan at his Vancouver Cabinet Offices.

Feb. 18 – National Police Federation survey states that 77% of Surrey Residents want to keep the RCMP.

Citizens continue to hold out hope that commons sense will prevail.

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What Surrey Needs To Change In Order To Be Considered The New Downtown Of Metro Vancouver

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By Esther Amankop Udoh

It’s no surprise the population of Surrey is growing at a fast rate. A city known as the suburbs for Vancouver and its downtown area might now have a chance to overtake Vancouver and become the new downtown for the Metro Vancouver Region.

With the insane cost of housing in Vancouver, many are moving to Surrey where the cost of living is a little more tolerable.

With more people relocating to Surrey, the population is on the rise and many central locations like Guildford, Newton, Surrey Central and more, are now becoming the new hub for fun.

A recent report by the Daily Hive discussed the various reasons as to why Surrey could potentially become the new downtown. Various reasons were mentioned, from the accessibility to the real estate opportunities.

While this sounds like an ideal, a new downtown with an affordable cost of living. It’s almost impossible for Surrey to attain the title of Metro Vancouver’s “downtown” without drastic changes being made to the city.

Surrey resident Nicole Gonzalez Filos spoke about her excitement at the thought of Surrey turning into a downtown hotspot.

Filos mentioned her excitement for the growing city and how she looked forward to not having to travel all the way to Vancouver in order to go out and [have fun].

“Many things [can] happen here. The new SkyTrain can be built, because we really do need a new SkyTrain from King George to Newton,” she said. “It would be very helpful for everyone,” she added.

The growth of Surrey also comes with more job opportunities. Filos spoke about the job opportunities that could open up for the residents of Surrey.

“If the city keeps on growing it’ll mean … more jobs for people in Surrey and that will be very good, because they won’t have to go to Vancouver for their job and instead they can do everything right where they live,” she said.

Along with the changes that could bring more job opportunities, and a possible train expansion- a topic which is still up in the air, the changes can also bring a higher cost of living for the residents.

Regardless of the potential rising cost of living. It’s apparent that Surrey would be a suitable place for a new downtown core.

With the new modern buildings, parks, and budding restaurants. Many people can begin walking along the busy streets of Newton and Surrey Central.

However, before any of this can happen, the obvious change for a SkyTrain extension to other parts of Surrey, like a Newton to King George extension needs to be made or at least be a topic for discussion.

Like the Surrey to Langley SkyTrain extension. Which, as of Jan.30th, had its business case approved, with a final approval anticipated to come by the summer.

If all goes accordingly, the construction for the train is expected to start next year, with the train extension running by 2025.

This change is something Surrey residents can expect in the next five years, and something that could further push Surrey to contending for a chance at Metro Vancouver’s new Downtown.

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Surrey residents want Uber and Lyft immediately: Councillor Linda Annis

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Surrey, B.C: Councillor Linda Annis wants Surrey residents to have immediate access to Uber and Lyft, just like residents of Vancouver. Annis is calling on the mayor and city staff to ensure ride hailing is available in Surrey and that going forward there are “no obstacles or political games being played” that would restrict or hinder Uber and Lyft from serving Surrey customers.

“We’ve all waited long enough, it’s time to get on with it,” said Annis. “The monopoly of the tax owners is over and Surrey residents should have the same access to Uber and Lyft as Vancouverites. I want assurances from the mayor and our city staff that there will be no more obstacles and that our residents can access this new transportation option immediately. I’m hoping the mayor will stand up for 550,000 Surrey residents, rather than a handful of tax company owners who have had a monopoly for decades.”

Annis said she supports the proposed regional license that would allow Uber and Lyft to operate right across the region. At the same time, Annis says taxi boundaries should be a thing of the past and that taxis should be allowed to pick-up and drop-off anywhere in metro Vancouver.

“The old rules do nothing but protect the monopoly of a handful of taxi owners, and do nothing for the drivers or Surrey residents,” said Annis. “Frankly, governments should get out of the way and let the market and consumers decide what’s best. The times are changing and riders want more choices, so let’s try and catch up with the rest of the world.”

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